Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thoughts on King Lear

20. King Lear

"Oh reason not the need..." it's hard not to feel pity for an elderly man thrown out in a rainstorm. Yet what did he do to Goneril and Regan to make them behave like that? Lear is no wise old man for sure, and in his haste to censure, damn, and disinherit his own children, it's no wonder they've followed his example.

What happens when mistreated children are put in charge? Chaos, murder, and mayhem. Gloucester's eyes are plucked out, Lear abandoned, good men banished, and good women hanged. All for parents' failure to see the results of their own actions; Gloucester cannot see that his treatment of his bastard son Edmund fosters resentment, Lear cannot see the bruises from his favoritism for Cordelia and how his daughters actually feel about him.

Lear may be a story where we feel sorry for the old and disgusted with the young, save the faithful Edgar and Cordelia, but it's a tragedy not only of misjudging evil, but mistakenly fostering it. When Lear was thinking of his own emotional needs, he should have thought earlier of his daughters'.

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